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Brenda Lee: Little Miss Dynamite Changes Tunes

By Mia Evans and Scott Ross
The 700 Club She was a household name in the 1950s and 1960s. Brenda Lee, the child star, turned teen sensation recorded a string of Number One hits.

"Alright.  My baby whispers in my ear. Oh, sweet nothings."

And remember this classic?

“I’m sorry, so sorry.”

Today she’s the only woman ever to be inducted into both the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. During her 50-year career, she’s sold over 100 million records worldwide.

Some of them are on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. That’s where I recently met up with the legendary singer.

Scott Ross: This is it.

Brenda Lee: This is the place.

Ross: Did some of these – Elvis Presley!

Lee: There you go, there’s Elvis.

Ross: The great Bob Wills.

Lee: The great Bob Wills.

Ross: Now, I stumbled on this [Scott points to Brenda’s plaque.]

Lee: Yeah, there I am hanging on the wall.

Ross: Well there you are, in brass?

Lee: Yes.

Ross: That doesn’t look like you. You think? What do you think?

Lee: Well, it’s got the big hair.

Ross: It does look like you.

Lee: They got that right. They got it right. Yeah.

Ross: What is it to stand here and look at yourself in brass? I mean, what do you think of that?

Lee: All of these people that are in this hall, I worked with most of them and they were my friends. So to be in their company is just the most amazing thing to me.

Ross: I have to ask you since we’re standing here together… how tall are you? Because people will ask anyway.

Ross [reporting]: Her petite frame and powerhouse performances earned her the nickname “Little Miss Dynamite.” The name still fits.

Ross: We won’t talk about how long you’ve been doing this.

Lee: Thank you!

Ross: It gets scary when you look back.

Lee: It does. It’s really unbelievable that I’ve been doing this for as long as I have, because it doesn’t seem like a long time, and I started professionally singing when I was seven.

Ross: Seven?

Lee: And I’m 62.

Ross: You’re giving numbers away on the air like this?

Lee: Sure, I’m proud of it!

Ross: Okay, well you look fine.

Lee: Most people think I’m 82, so I’ll say it right now -- I’m 62.

Ross [reporting]: At 10-years-old, Brenda got her first big break. TV host, Red Foley offered her a guest spot on his show, Ozark Jubilee.

Lee: He helped me to get my contract with Decca Records, and then I appeared on all the major variety shows: Steve Allen, Perry Como ... without a record, that’s unheard of in that time.

Ross [reporting]: The little girl from Georgia had found fame. And soon she would find her one true love… Ronnie Shacklett.

Ross: You’ve been married 44 years.

Lee: Yes, 44 years. I was 18, he was 19.

Ross: How do you maintain marriage in the middle of this business that marriages last – talk about 40 years, they don’t last 40 minutes. That you’ve lasted this long. How many children do you have?

Lee: Two children and three grandchildren.

Ross: How have you done that? How have you done that?

Lee: You know God is good.

Ross: Yes, He is.

Lee: I think you know, He was looking out for me when I chose my husband. I wanted somebody with integrity, honesty and somebody that loved me .. and that would protect me and take care of me. I have found that. And I can only attribute that to God.

Ross: In this industry again, in a marriage, has prayer been an integrated part of your life?

Lee: Oh yeah, yes always ... always prayer.

Ross: Has your perception of God changed over the years since the beginning -- with this little 7-year-old girl to talk to the woman that you are today?

Lee: God has never disappointed me.

Ross: Yeah.

Lee: My belief in Him, my love of Him has been constant. And His belief in me, and His love for me has been constant.

Ross [reporting]: Inspired by her love for God, Brenda Lee has just released a new CD –Gospel Duets With Treasured Friends.

Lee: Growing up in the church in the South, those are songs that I sang as a little girl. And my mom loved these songs, and she always wanted me to do a Gospel album. That was mainly the reason I did it, and I was blessed that she was able to hear it before she passed away last November. She was able to hear it, and she loved it.

Ross [reporting]: This project also holds personal meaning for Brenda. It’s the first Gospel album she’s ever recorded. And she’s eager to share the music that strengthened her faith with her.

Ross: Where do you go from this – the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock 'n Roll Hall. Is there anything else?

Lee: Well you know ... where you go, you go back out to the people that put me here -- the people that paid their hard earned money to come see the shows and buy the records support your career through this many years. And I’ve had more days in the sun than I ever dreamed possible. So you go back out to the people and sing for them, and you thank them.  

Contact Scott Ross

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